Category Archives: Around the Region

Millions of Dollars in Contracts to be awarded in 2019

It’s that time again! The Innovation Hub in downtown Little Rock was abuzz last week with more than 240 people representing 180 plus businesses from across the region, for the annual Industry Days contracting event. Industry Days have been a boon periodically over 13 years for the Little Rock District. This informational and business exchanges symposium gives the District an opportunity to educate contractors on the basics of the contracting process.

Some of the elements discussed are the types of work offered, what it takes to put in a good bid, how to obtain a contract, how to stay in good standing, and how to get compensated. Industry Days is important since it allows the Corps to receive better submissions of bid packages, ensuring that they can select contractors who will be the best fit for the contract being awarded.

Contractors listening in to a presentation at Industry Days.

Given this event has been held numerous times over the last decade, it might be a challenge to generate continued interest year after year. However, the Little Rock team has been able to stave off stagnancy by continually offering new and varied educational content in tandem with business opportunities for contractors to obtain partnerships with other contractors.

According to Sandra Easter chief of contracting, “There is a diverse group that comes to Industry Days each year that are solely looking for partnerships. Attending this event allows them to have the opportunity to obtain those coveted partnerships. This is just one of the many ways we are able to create interest year after year.”

Among one of the primary reasons that Little Rock’s Industry Days are so successful is due to a dedicated core team made up of 12 individuals, whose main goal is to create a meaningful exchange between contractors and the Corps. This is achieved by the team securing multiple business opportunities from other agencies. Additionally, the symposium featured representation from other Corps districts in the Southwestern Division, Northwestern Division, and Mississippi Valley Division in order to maximize these opportunities while the contractors are in attendance.

A representative from Kansas City Division meeting with contractors.

Annually, there are over 1,000 contract actions processed. And more than a billion dollars in contracts are up for grabs for fiscal year 2019, so attending Industry Days acts as a jumping off point for contractors to learn the steps needed to succeed in bidding on these contracts.

Col. Robert Dixon, the commander of the Little Rock District had this to say about the event, “Industry Days is all about opportunity, networking, and learning. Government contracts can be quite difficult to work with at times because they involve a maze of rules and regulations that can be challenging to navigate. However, USACE and its partners at the Small Business Administration and the Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center are here to help.  Whether you are a big business with lots of experience or a small business just starting out, navigating the government acquisition process is a team sport, and this forum is a great place to find teammates.”

The two day event has been fruitful for contractors and the Corps alike. It has allowed contractors the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to construct well-tailored bids and the Corps to get the best people for the job. It’s a win, win!


Chris Turner is “Making a Difference”

Chris Turner makes a difference every day for those U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees on the lower portion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), and at the Little Rock District’s annual awards ceremony he was formally recognized for his efforts. Turner received the District’s Making a Difference Award June 21, in front of hundreds of his fellow Corps employees.

Chris Turner (right) accepts the 2018 “Making a Difference” award from Chris Roark, the Little Rock District executive officer. Turner is the MKARNS Lock and Dam Equipment Mechanic Supervisor for locks 1-3.

According to his citation, “Turner has consistently established a high benchmark for safety, integrity, knowledge and dedication to the navigation mission. His “can-do” attitude coupled with his willingness to help others and excellent work ethic has made him an immeasurable members of the MKARNS team.”

The “Making a Difference” award is given to those who consistently go above and beyond all expectations and have garnered unwavering respect from peers and co-workers. The award was created in 2008 by former DPM Randy Hathaway and the awardees include employees and some of our partners and stakeholders. The very first recipient was MGEN Ed Jackson when he commanded Little Rock District in the 2008 time-frame. To date, only 29 “Making a Difference” awards have be presented to deserving recipients.

Spotlight on Chris S. Turner

Position:  MKARNS Lock & Dam Equipment Mechanic Supervisor

Years with SWL:  12 years

Hometown:  Tichnor, Arkansas

Hobbies:  Spending time with my wife and family. I also enjoy going to the deer camp, hunting with my boys, and working in the yard.

Q:  You have been with the district 12 years, how has your job changed over the years?

A:   I spend more and more time on the computer and less time out in the field.

Q:  What positions have you held in the district?

A:  Started out as a lock operator in 2006 then went on to become a lock mechanic in June 2010. From there I was promoted to my current position as lockmaster in August of 2011. I supervise operations at Locks 1-3 on the lower portion of the MKARNS.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about your current position and why?

A:  The diversity of the job.  I am not always doing the same thing day in and day out. Although it is leaning towards more office time.

 Q:  What are your short and long term professional and personal goals?

A:  Professional – To be the best supervisor I can be and to mentor to new employees and try to get them started in their career in the right state of mind to have a long and rewarding career. I want them to be happy and to take pride in what they do.

A:  Personal – To be able to provide for my family and in hopes of someday retiring and watching my children grow up with families of their own.

Q:  What do you do to instill your veteran knowledge in new employees?

A:  I try to lead by example. I do not want anyone to think that I am above getting out there and working. I try to let them know that they will have a name on the river and it may be good or bad, but that is entirely up to them. I try to encourage everyone to help one another.

Q:  What do you enjoy most about your job?

A:  I like the location and that all of my three locks are different from one another and from all the other locks on the river. The three rivers all coming together and the challenges that go with it.

Q:  What are some of the biggest challenges related to your position?

A:  Getting everything I need taken care of in a timely manner. One of my pet peeves is having an email not to get answered, but sometimes I may not get to it in the time I would like due to higher priorities at the time.

Q:  What motivates you to make a difference at work and for the Corps?

A:  I like to solve problems. When someone has an issue I enjoy trying to come up with a solution that will benefit everyone. I love to let my co-workers know that someone does care what they think and that it is not just a government job.  I want them to know the reasons behind the decisions being made.

Q:  What ways have you found to balance your home life with the busy schedule you have at work?

A:  I do what I have to do for both work and home. I knew when I accepted the position what it consisted of, but it doesn’t really interfere with the family time very often. I have a very understanding and supportive wife.

Q:  Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?

A:  I am the local fire chief going on 15 years and I am also a deputy sheriff and have been for 11 years.